In the last 15 years, between 2003-2018, there were over 2,250 road accidents on Road 90 in which 223 people were killed, over 6,450 people were hurt, 700 of them seriously, according to data provided by road safety NGO Or Yarok.
In the past 20 days alone, 17 people were killed on Road 90.
The NGO said that an analysis of road accidents reveals that most of them involved a front-side collision, overturning and side-side collision.
Highway 90 was paved at the end of the 1960s, Or Yarok noted. The road crossed Israel from Kiryat Shmona in the north, through the Hula Valley, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, the Arava and Eilat in the southernmost part of the country.
"In many portions of it we are talking about a road that is not forgiving to drivers' mistakes - one lane for each direction with no hard separation between the lane to prevent head-on accidents of the type we have seen in recent says, the entries and exits to settlements are unorganized, the hard shoulders are narrow or don't exist as all, the road is dark and winding and has a mix of many vehicles like trucks, agricultural vehicles, private and commercial cars, buses and two-wheelers," Or Yarok said. "The mix of different vehicles traveling at different speeds on the road with an infrastructure that is not forgiving of mistakes can lead to difficult results."
Oz Dror, spokesperson for Or Yarok said: "Route 90 continues to claim victims and take lives as a result of a shaky infrastructure that is not forgiving of drivers´ mistakes. It is always easier to blame the driver and the human factor, but the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety also has a responsibility. This is a road that was paved 50 years ago, and many years ago it was necessary to improve the infrastructure and turn it from a red road to a safe road. A separation railing must be installed between the lanes to prevent head-on accidents as early as tomorrow morning in order to prevent the next casualty. Road accidents are not fate but failure. "
News site Mako cited Civil Engineer Giora Shiloni as saying that a simple solution could be implemented within 3 months. "I differentiate between the accident today and the two previous accidents," Shiloni said. "The road doesn't have the same character there, it's not the same kind of crowd who used it, the accident happened today on a winding road with small radians, without hard shoulders and almost endless entries and exits, the road does not widen for turns; it is designed for calamity and the people who use this portion of the road do not pay much attention to the traffic laws."
Shiloni suggested that at the southern part of the road below the Arava junction down to Eilat, an interurban traffic circle of a 50 meter radius be placed at every place where there is a turn. "Thus every turn will make people drive slower," he said.
"A lot of people try to overtake when they see that there is a vehicle opposite them which they perceive as far away," explained Shiloni. "Making the road two-lanes with wide hard shoulders and a separation island is a big expense and it will take time to do so - the solution I propose can be implemented within three months."
The Ministry of Transport expressed its sorrow over Sunday's accident
and sent its condolences to the families of those killed and a blessing for the wounded. But it said that the statement that separation infrastructure must be installed and to prevent any option of overtaking for hundreds of kilometers of Route 90 "is baseless and lacks any transportation and practical grounds." But Dror pointed out that Or Yarok was not advocating that a median strip be placed along the entire road but rather only in the danger zones.
The ministry stated that the road is maintained continuously by the Netivei Israel company. Recently, it added, the Director General of the Ministry of Transportation instructed the company to examine in a specific manner the need for separation or other measures on the road.
From Eilat going north, it said, a road with two lanes in each direction is gradually being built, which it says "is the right solution for upgrading the Arava road and the Jordan Valley road, like the other roads in Judea and Samaria, and Route 90 in the north. This is in addition to the police enforcement that is especially vital to these places and in view of the large growth in the number of road users, as is the case throughout Israel."
So far, it noted, a section of the Arava road has been renovated from Eilat to Yotvata, which is 53 kilometers long. Netivei Israel is currently completing an upgrade of another 11 kilometers of the road, up to the Ketura junction, at a cost of NIS 150 million. "Upon completion of the work, the Ministry will continue to upgrade the road to the Arava junction. The cost of completing the upgrade is estimated at NIS 2.1 billion," it stated.
"It’s a shame that we had to wait for there to be so many deaths for them to deal with the road," Dror remarked.
"Attempts to point at the government as responsible for the recent tragic accidents, while ignoring the serious failures and mistakes of drivers, are invalid and transgresses the truth," the ministry said.
The police said that its traffic unit has significantly increased enforcement on the road in the past couple of years, with both overt and covert police patrolling the roads, in the hope that drivers will learn that whether or not they can see police present, they still must drive carefully and according to the law. "Whether or not you see a police car or not, we are there," an official told The Jerusalem Post. He also noted that police used technological means for enforcement on the road.
Police also noted that the use of cell phones while driving is a major factor in causing road accidents. "It's enough to look down at your phone for 3-4 seconds, and if you're driving at 100 kph you drive some 70-80 meters without your eyes on the road and you can find yourself hitting another car or veering from your lane," the official said.
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